Israel threatens Hamas with massive retaliation as cease-fire enters final day

Netanyahu told his cabinet ministers that Hamas was mistaken if it thought that it could cover its military defeat over the last month with a diplomatic achievement.

A day before the midnight expiration of a five-day ceasefire, Israel sent out clear messages on Sunday that it will respond massively to any type of fire from Gaza and not tolerate a long-term “war of attrition.”

“It is not clear whether there will be an agreement,” a senior diplomatic official said as the Israeli and Palestinian delegations held indirect talks in Cairo.

If no agreement is agreed upon, the official said, there are two possibilities. The first is that no cease-fire extension or agreement is reached by Monday at midnight, and Hamas renews its firing. “If that happens,” he said, “Israel’s response will be strong.”

He said an example of Israel’s likely reaction was last weekend’s breakdown of the cease-fire, when Hamas fired mortars at Israel and the IAF responded by hitting 170 terrorist targets inside Gaza.

The other possibility is that the cease-fire lapses, but the firing does not resume, in which case efforts would continue to find a longer-term arrangement, the official said.

But Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told his cabinet ministers at the opening of the weekly Sunday cabinet meeting that Hamas is mistaken if it thinks it can cover its military defeat over the last month with a diplomatic achievement.

In an apparent response to Hamas’s threats to engage Israel in a long war of attrition if its demands were not met, Netanyahu said further that “if Hamas thinks that we cannot stand up to it over time, it is mistaken.”

“In the turbulent and unstable Middle East in which we live, it is not enough just to have more strength, you also need determination and patience,” he said. “Hamas knows that we are very strong, but perhaps it thinks we do not have enough determination and patience. And here it is making a big mistake as well.”

Full article: Israel threatens Hamas with massive retaliation as cease-fire enters final day (The Jerusalem Post)

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